Monday, 29 April 2013
Perth's Whisky Event of the Year!
Saturday evening I attended the whisky event of the year here in Perth, Whisky Live. I'd wanted to go last year, but due to budget issues wasn't able to so when I saw Whisky Live pop up in my Facebook feed this year I promptly purchased a ticket for both my wife and myself.
What followed were several months of anxiously and excitedly waiting, especially as I started getting sneak peeks on what to expect.
This last Saturday I shut up my beer shop and raced over to my sister in laws in order to shower and change before all of us, brother and sister in law, wife and myself, all flagged down a taxi to take us on over.
Along with my lovely family I'd brought with me my brand new trusty camera (btw how can a camera be trusty when it's brand new? Doesn't it need to be tried and true to be trusty? Oh well a thought for another day) specifically purchased for Whisky Live and our upcoming trip to Scotland. Pics will be posted shortly as soon as I can figure out how to upload them onto the site.
We'd arrived a few short minutes before the 6pm opening and so stood in the foyer along with all the other punters, eager to get our grubby little glencairns on all the delicious whiskies awaiting us inside.
It was a little like waiting for Christmas when you're a kid. It can't come soon enough and you're eager as can be to get in and rip off the wrapping paper to get to the special gifts inside. Time drags on and on and what in reality is five minutes tends to seem a little more like 45 minutes.
However at last, exactly at 6pm the doors opened and we were welcomed in, climbing the short steps to see what whisky goodness would await us. As we went through the doors we were given our official Whisky Live show bags with one of the things that I'd use the most that night. A brand new trusty glencairn! As we went through the doors I stopped in mild surprise.
This is what awaited us!
Whisky stand after whisky stand with that as the backdrop. Impressive as could be and enough to actually make me pause just a bit in my mad dash to sample some whiskies.
I wound up wandering through the different stands, seeing just what was there at the time, confirming that indeed, all 100 plus whiskies in the catalog were present and accounted for.
Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Kavalan, Amrut, Auchentoshan, Glenfiddich, more and more! Glenlivet, Bowmore, Buffalo Trace, Bruichladdich, Yamazaki, more and more and more! Sullivan's Cove, Overeem, Nant, Glengoyne Kavalan, Glen Grants, Gordon & MacPhail, Highland Park, Talisker....
Talisker! Talisker Storm is debuting here! So many whiskies to see! Must grab Storm first!
I immediately made a beeline and thrust out my glencairn in an anxious manner, fearful that they will have already run out even though only a couple of other people are in front of their stand.
"May I please have a sample of the Storm please, pleeeeeeease!"
The whisky rep overlooks my idiocy for which I can only say that he is indeed a man among men and a saint.
I thank him and immediately continue on my way, searching among the whiskies, grabbing photos of all the stands, all the whiskies. But I don't sample Storm just yet, I'm waiting for when I've calmed down and will actually be able to devote some brain power into this dram.
All of a sudden one of the Whisky Live owners goes on up to the stage and asks for our attention. He talks briefly about the history of whisky and a small amount about the origins of this lovely water of life.
And then he asks us to raise our drams to our ear and listen quietly for just a few seconds.
We do so and the lights go just a little dark and then we hear chanting, chanting from monks and then we see them, slowly moving up, walking in a line, holding candles. Chanting the entire way up to the stage, singing the impurities out of the whiskies in the room.
They make their way up to the stage where their voices rise in a massive crescendo, before dropping down again, leaving us just a little awe inspired.
The crowd, including me, starts making our way around the room, some of us grabbing pictures, some of us food, and most of us, whisky.
I personally decide to grab a bite to eat first as I haven't had anything in my belly since around 7am that morning and there's no way you're going to be trying whiskies left, right and center on an empty stomach.
Pretty decent food, especially the chicken lasagne, and now I'm fortified for the night ahead!
First off I sample the Talisker Storm that my lovely and patient wife has been holding onto for me for the last half hour. Peppery, smokey and slightly sweet it's quite yummy and is another excellent offering from one of my favorite Scottish distilleries, it especially makes me want to sit down and have a chance to contemplate it in the comfort of my own home.
Note to self: pick up Talisker Storm.
I've plotted in advance how this night is going to go. Many of the whiskies in the show I've had before, some of them many times, Auchentoshan, Glenfiddich, Buffalo Trace, Bruichladdich, Jack Daniels, etc so tonight is going to be all about whiskies that have had my interest for a while. Whiskies that I haven't had a chance to try before.
Up on the tasting plate for me: Sullivan's Cove, Nant, Overeem, Glengoyne, New Zealand Whisky Co, Hellyer's Road, Highland Park 18, Bowmore Legend, Hudson Bay Rye and Bourbon, Glen Grants, and a few others that happen to grab my attention along the way.
I wind up meeting with distillers, brand ambassadors, whisky reps and whisky lovers of all types. I managed to get a photo with the owner of Sullivan's Cove, Patrick Maguire (very cool guy!) and get to talk a little bit of shop with him while he introduces me to some Sullivan's Cove, specifically the French Oak (Yum!) and his friend's Overeem Port Cask (Yum!) and Overeem Sherry Cask (POW! SUPER YUM!) Photos to come soon of this event!
I get to chat with the Diego rep who is covering the Talisker stand and we chat about Scotland a bit, about the Isle of Skye (god I was I was able to fit that into my upcoming trip) and some of the upcoming goodness of Talisker in Australia!
I swing by and say hello to my friends from Kavalan, Starward and Bruichladdich. I get a chance to taste a fresh bottle of Highland Park 18 year old (first and last time I tried it I had it in a bar, was VERY unimpressed and worried that I was missing something regarding the hype, the fresh bottle confirmed the hype for me!)
I'm given a special anniversary edition of Glen Grants 170th Anniversary (delicious!) New Zealand Whisky, cask strength 23 year old (BAM! YUM!). Over the next few hours I wind up trying roughly 20 different whiskies, most very delicious, some just ok. All of it heaps of fun! And then they start calling out that the raffle will be starting in 15 minutes be sure to get your ticket now!
My wife and I always win at raffles, ever since I've moved to Australia, generally we wind up winning second or third prize, but hey it's all in good fun and this raffle will benefit a charity, specifically the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
First prize: Dozens of whiskies.
Yeah I want to win this just a little bit so my wife and I purchase 7 tickets under her name.
And then we go back to sampling whiskies. I make a couple return trips to Sullivan's Cove and Overeem, sadly Sullivan's Cove has run out of theirs by now, but the delicious Overeem Sherry is still available so I grab a dram of this as I chat with the guys from the whisky club.
And then they announce the raffle winners!
First prize.....drum roll please.....
Is not me.
I look over at my wife and smile and go oh well, it was worth a shot.
And then they announce the winner of the runner up prize.
It's my wife.
Holy crap we won a bottle of Talisker Storm!?!?>!<>!?!>?
My wife goes up to claim the bottle as I shout out and generally make a wee bit of an idiot of myself. I'll have a bottle of the Storm to actually sit down with in my house so I can review it!
I'm chatting with a couple guys next to me who are lamenting their loss, I totally understand that, and I'm at a loss for words on the winning of Storm, in a very sexy storm covered box.
And then my wife gives me the box, stares at me and goes "why are you so excited? It's just the 10 year old."
I look again. She's right, it's indeed the 10 year old.
Oh well who cares I won! And the 10 year is a delicious whisky!
We have a few more drams over the course of the evening, chatting more with distillers and brand reps, learning new things, making new friends and in short had an absolute blast.
About my only complaints about the entire event was that a few distilleries/bottles that I'd hoped would be there, weren't.
It would have been awesome if Jack Daniels had brought in the Woodford Reserve. It would have been awesome if Buffalo Trace had brought in a bottle of their Antique Collection, be it the Stagg, Handy, Weller, etc. It would have been awesome if Glenfarclas, Aberlour, Macallan and Ardbeg had come to the show.
However you know what they say?
THERE'S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR! BRING ON WHISKY LIVE 2013!